Leadership of Dr Sun Yat-Sen (1866-1925)

Revered as the “Father of the Chinese Revolution”, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, even in death continues to astound us all with his lifetime achievements, offering us a lesson in emotional stamina.

The Man
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, the physician turned Nationalist was born in Xiangshan, Guangdong in 1866. He began his revolutionary career in 1894 when he felt that for China to be great again, the Manchu Dynasty had to be overthrown. In 1895, after the Sino-Japanese War, Dr. Sun returned to Hong Kong from Hawaii where he went to strengthen his resolve and began stimulating revolutionary zeal among overseas Chinese. For the next sixteen years, he travelled widely studying western political and economic thoughts presumably to prepare himself should he be brought to power.

In 1911, through perseverance, Dr. Sun’s forces succeeded in overthrowing the Manchu government and he was elected provisional president of the new Republic of China. Shortly afterwards, Dr. Sun gave his position to Yuan Shih Kai, a powerful warlord. But in 1916, Dr. Sun showed once again his remarkable leadership influence when he brought down Yuan Shi-Kai after he revealed his dynastic ambitions.

Dr. Sun transformed his movement into a political party called the Kuomintang (KMT) in 1917 and established a regime in Guangzhou. Sadly, he was to pass away in 1925 in Beijing before he could see his revolution run its entire course. Selfless and idealistic, Dr. Sun had designed a programme for China based essentially on his understanding of western ideas. Always a fervent Chinese at heart, he had broad support for his ideas and was greatly admired as a leader wherever he went.

Lessons In Career Leadership
“…the people constitute the foundation of a nation and they are all equal in their own country.” With this quote, Dr. Sun set about the “Three Principals of the People” combining fundamental aspects of nationalism, democracy and socialism which he hoped would provide the basic foundations of a great China. Dr. Sun, in his lifetime, had extraordinary tenacity and persuasive powers and was able to influence people with his thoughts and ideas. But what was more remarkable about his character was the emotional stamina he had to realise his ambitions. Each succeedingly higher level of leadership places increasing demands on the emotions of leaders and, an effective leader has to ensure that he or she has the stamina to see through disappointments.

A great leader is someone who can recover from discouragement and carry out the responsibilities of his or her office without losing clear perspective. He or she must also possess the emotional strength to persist in the face of seemingly difficult circumstances. Do we have that in times of trials and tribulations in the course of our career and personal life? Maybe, there is a thing or two that we can learn from the life of the indomitable Dr. Sun Yat-Sen.

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